Celebrating Nasi Lemak

  • Published on:  1/30/2019
  • Today’s Doodle celebrates the rich, fragrant, and spicy dish, known as Nasi Lemak. The dish — considered the national dish of Malaysia and widely eaten year-round — is what many Malaysians start their day with. Also popular in Singapore and Thailand, the humble delicacy is believed to have originated as a hearty farmer’s breakfast on the west coast of the Malaysian peninsula.

    Although the name translates from Malay as “rich rice” (a reference to the coconut milk included in the recipe) there is another origin story for the name. According to legend, the daughter of a widow named Mak Kuntum accidentally spilled coconut milk into the rice pot. “What did you cook?” Mak asked and her daughter answered. "Nasi le, Mak!" (Rice, mother!)

    There are many variations of the dish across the multiethnic melting pot of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and other indigenous and imported cultures, but the fundamental recipe — featured in today’s video Doodle — is rice cooked with santan or coconut milk and flavored with pandan leaf and galangal root, served with ikan bilis (fried anchovies), crispy peanuts (skin on), sliced cucumber, hard-boiled egg, and sambal (hot sauce) or a splash of tamarind juice, with an optional piece of fried chicken or beef rendang on the side. Sold at roadside stalls wrapped in a “bungkus” of banana leaf or brown paper, Nasi Lemak is so popular it’s also eaten for lunch and dinner, too!

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